Study: Golf Provides ‘Significant Health Benefits’ For Older Golfers

As if you needed another excuse to sneak out to the golf course, it very well may be helping to keep you alive longer.

That’s what a study co-opted by the R&A and carried out by research teams at the University of Southampton in England and the University of Southern California found.

“The Strength and Balance Study,” which studied over 160 people over the age of 65, concluded that golf provides numerous “strength and balance benefits” to older golfers.

The English-based research team went about comparing golfers to non-golfers in an effort to “demonstrate the physical and psychosocial benefits associated with playing recreational golf regularly by comparing physical measures between older golfers and sedentary non-golfers.”

“An international research study backed by the R&A has found new evidence to suggest golf can provide significant health benefits to older participants in the form of improved muscle strength and balance,” the R&A said in its official release. “Muscle strength and balance exercises form an important part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended guidelines to tackle physical inactivity in older people about which little was previously known for golf. The Strength and Balance Study has indicated that older golfers have and develop strength and balance benefits.”

“The findings indicate that golf is associated with health benefits related to better muscle strength and balance,” Professor Maria Stokes, OBE at the University of Southampton, said. “This suggests golf may meet World Health Organization recommendations for older people, which would potentially qualify golf for social prescription and exercise referral schemes among policy makers to help manage health conditions.”

Professor Stokes counterpart at USC, Dr. George Salem agreed.

“Our findings suggest that golf should be considered when prescribing exercise for older adults because it appears to be safe, feasible and an adherent form of exercise for a better, healthier quality of life,” he said. “Moreover, as golf is an exercise activity that includes strengthening, power, balance, endurance and cognitive challenges, it satisfies the recommended physical activity guidelines of the World Health Organization, the American College of Sports Medicine and UK guidelines.”

The Golf & Health Project, a joint initiative spearheaded by the R&A and the other World Golf Foundation partners, began in 2016 in an effort to encourage the growth of the game in all ages by raising awareness of the game’s health benefits. It’s clear to see that this most recent study will be a tentpole for the project going forward.

“The evidence from this study is indicative that golf helps strength and balance, with no previous research to highlight this to the golf industry until now,” Dr. Roger Hawkes, Executive Director at the Golf & Health Project, said. “The overall findings and benefits should be of great value for golfers and non-golfers going forward.”

There you have it. Get out and play some golf. It’s good for your health.